AKRON, Ohio (July 4, 2018)– The Cleveland Comets and Aussie Spirit split an Independence Day doubleheader at Firestone Park on Wednesday.
Cleveland won the first game, 3-2, in eight innings while the Spirit used a pair of home runs to pull away in a 6-1 win in the finale.
After a thunderstorm forced Tuesday night’s series opener to be completed on Wednesday, the Spirit took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth when Clare Warwick singled and advanced to second on an error. Verity Long then hit a two-out single to break the scoreless tie.
Aussie’s lead didn’t last long.
Alexa Peterson led off Cleveland’s half of the fifth with a solo home run to center field. The four-bagger was the team-best sixth of the season for Peterson.
The Comets scratched another run when Yuan Huaining drew a two-out walk and scored on Liu Feifei’s single.
Jade Wall opened the Aussie seventh with a double and Warwick singled to chase Cleveland starter Gretchen Aucoin from the game. Randi Rupp relieved and gave up an RBI single to tie the game at 2-2. Rupp retired the next three batters she faced to give the Comets a chance to win it in the bottom half of the inning.
Jordan Taylor had other ideas and set the Comets down in order to force the eighth inning.
Using the International tie breaker, Stacey McManus started the inning off at second and advanced to third on a groundout but Rupp retired all three batters she faced thanks to two outstanding plays from shortstop Jiang Xinyue.
Yuan Huaining started the bottom of the eight on second base and scored on a throwing error to end the game.
Aussie outhit the Comets, 5-3.
Jade Rhodes also had a hit for Cleveland while Jade wall contributed a hit for the Spirit.
Aucoin allowed one earned run on four hits and struck out a pair in a six-inning no decision. Rupp collected her third win of the season.
Peterson finished 1-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored to take home the Vaultz Lock It Up Player of the Game award.
Samantha Poole’s two run home run in the top of the first gave the Spirit an early lead they wouldn’t relinquish in earning the split.
Stacey Porter hit a two-out single to set up Poole’s blast.
Carmelle’s Sorensen’s two-out double led to another Aussie run in the top of the fourth but the Comets responded in the bottom half of the inning when Jade Rhodes hit her third home run of the season.
That’s as close as Cleveland would get as Amelia Cudicio, Kaia Parnaby and Stephanie Trzcinski combined to strike out seven of the final 11 Cleveland hitters.
Justine Smethurst was credited with the win after allowing just two hits in the three innings she pitched.
Aussie added three runs on three hits in the fifth. Taylay Tsitsikronis hit a two-run homer in the inning.
Devin Brown took the loss for Cleveland. She allowed three earned runs on six hits and struck out two in four innings.
Aussie’s Samantha Poole earned the Vaultz Lock It Up Player of the Game Award after finishing 3-for-3 with three runs batted in and two runs scored.
Cleveland (8-19) and Aussie (10-25) will complete their three-game series at Firestone Stadium on Thursday at 7:05 p.m.
About National Pro Fastpitch (NPF)
National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), an Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball since 2004, provides elite female athletes with an opportunity to pursue a professional career in fastpitch softball beyond their collegiate and amateur success. The NPF affiliate teams consist of the Aussie Spirit, Beijing Shougang Eagles, Chicago Bandits, Cleveland Comets and USSSA Florida Pride for the 2018 season. National Pro Fastpitch players hail from the United States, Australia, Canada, and China, among which are the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball.
Photo Credit: Steve Hare